Jamiʿa al-Islamiyya, al-

views updated


Loosely organized network of neofundamentalist Islamist groups in Egypt.

When Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser outlawed the Muslim Brotherhood in 1954, some of its members formed splinter groups and adopted more radical tactics to achieve their goal of an Islamic state. The Brotherhood developed its own secret armed wing during its most violent period, between 1945 and 1965, and was associated with numerous assassinations. Under presidents Anwar Sadat and Husni Mubarak, it was revitalized and brought back into the mainstream, and its ideology and objectives are now different from those of al-Jamiʿa al-Islamiyya. It has undertaken a policy of nonviolence and formed coalitions with the secular Wafd Party in 1984 and the Socialist Labor Party and the Liberal Party in 1987 to form the Islamic Alliance (al-Tahaluf alIslami).

Al-Jamiʿa al-Islamiyya (also al-Gamaʿa alIslamiyya, Islamic Society) was established as a faction of al-Jihad (holy war) by a local leader (amir), Gamal Farghali Haridi. It is a network of approximately twenty small groups whose members sometimes cross-participate. The groups emerged in the 1970s and 1980s as branches of the Muslim Broth-erhood's youth movement; the most notorious, alJihad, led by Muhammad Abd al-Salam Faraj, claimed responsibility for Sadat's assassination in 1981. This group has been linked to various violent incidents and MuslimChristian confrontations in Upper Egyptian towns such as Asyut, Minya, and Bani Suwayf.

Other affiliate groups are the Islamic Liberation Organization (also known as the Technical Military Academy Group, TMA), the Samawiyya, Saved from the Inferno (al-Najun min an-Nar), the Islamic Vanguard, the New Islamic Jihad, Excommunication and Emigration (al-Tafkir wa al-Hijra), and Muhammad's Youth (Shabab Muhammad). Although it is no longer thought to exist, Muhammad's Youth dates back to 1965, when some of its members wanted a gradual creation of an Islamic state and others supported immediate confrontation. Its leader, an agriculture student from Asyut, Shukri Mustafa, was sentenced to death in 1977 for kidnapping and murder. Its members were absorbed into Saved from the Inferno and Repose and Meditation (al-Tawaqqufwa al-Tabayyun). Another group, the al-Qutbiyyan, was influenced by the teachings of Sayyid Qutb of the Muslim Brotherhood, who was sentenced to death in 1965. In 1990 members of the al-Aqsa Martyrs of the World Islamic Front for Liberation assassinated the speaker of the National Assembly, Rifʿat al-Mahjub. In 1992 al-Jamiʿa attacked tourists, prompting the government to enact strict antiterrorism measures. In 1995 Husni Mubarak accused Sudan of having ties to the Jamiʿa al-Islamiyya after an assassination attempt on his life in Ethiopia.

Research from around the Middle East indicates that instances of neofundamentalist terrorism are increasingly a youth phenomenon. Islamists recruit among high school students and teachers. Between 1970 and 1990 the average age of young Islamists caught in police sweeps dropped from 27 to 21. Leaders in southern Egypt are often university students, while those in Cairo and the delta region are generally professionals. Recognizing the lack of opportunity among disenfranchised youth, the government has promised to expand resources in youth and sporting centers throughout the country.

see also jihad; mubarak, husni; qutb, sayyid; sadat, anwar al-; wafd.


Shaikh, Farzana. "Egypt." In Islam and Islamic Groups: A Worldwide Guide. Essex, U.K.: Longman Group, 1992.

Starrett, Gregory. Putting Islam to Work: Education, Politics, and Religious Transformation in Egypt. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998.

maria curtis